Having a dog is one of life’s pleasures. If you’re a lover of man’s best friend, you’ll understand that pets become one of the family. But with dog ownership comes responsibility.
Training your dog is vital for teaching them manners and helping them behave when around other dogs and humans. It doesn’t matter what age or breed your dog is, training will benefit them and you. What specifically does it help with ?
When dogs get off the leash or run off, you need to be able to get them back by using a good recall command. Good training also helps if they ever get lost, they will behave well when handled by others.
Teaching your dog boundaries helps them socialize better with other dogs and enables them to feel more comfortable. Furthermore, if you ever require to place your dog in boarding kennels, you will be able to trust him to behave.
If training has been done properly, your dog will respond to commands even in your absence. Dogs that suffer with any sort of anxiety will benefit the most from training.
When dogs are clear about what we want from them, they function better and are more confident. So, how do you train a dog and how easy or hard is it?
Teaching your dog to return to you is one of the hardest parts of training. This is because it requires a lot of repetition, consistency, and patience.
However, it is one of the most important commands, as mentioned above. Successful recall is when your dog responds immediately to your command, even if he is distracted.
Dog training experts use the phrase ‘reliable recall’ which means that your dog returns to you 99.99% of the time. To get a dog doing this successfully, you must give him lots of opportunities to practice.
The best way to teach a dog recall is to use what he loves most as a reward. For most dogs, treats work the best way. How do you do this?
Firstly, always use your dog’s name to get attention. Decide on a word or sound that you will use and use it consistently, so he gets used to it. Use the word with enthusiasm and excitement.
As you say the word, move in the direction you want him to come. As you move, praise your dog if he joins you.
Next, you should crouch down to his level as you pat your side, he should lean in close. Praise him a lot and give him the chosen treat or a toy as a reward.
Once your dog has mastered coming to you when you call, try to create some distractions for him.
Place some treats or favorite food along the pathway and practice the recall whilst he’s busy, this may take some time to master, but eventually it will become second nature for your dog to respond positively.
You don’t need to be outdoors to start recall training. When you have a young puppy, you can start slowly by letting him wander around and then using his name to come to you.
The earlier you start training a dog the better, pups learn really fast, and they want to please, they especially love treats so will do pretty much anything to get them.
Once you get outside, if calling their name doesn’t get the required result, you can try clapping or using a whistle or clicker. Start by going a little way away first and then increase the distance.
If you are worried about safety, look around the local area for people who hire out secure fields to help with dog training. Many offer field hire at a price per hour, which is ideal for safe puppy training.
You will be able to practice whilst having the confidence that your puppy can’t escape or get into any danger. Although teaching your dog initially may be hard, it is well worth the effort and will make things easier later on.
Once you are confident that your dog will return to you on command, you can then allow him more freedom by letting him off leash.
Once your dog has the hang of basic recall, you can add in some games to reinforce it and make it fun. Games such as ‘find me’ are great and keep their little brains busy and stimulated.
It will also help them build up some speed. Hide-and-seek can be a lot of fun to play with your dog, what’s not to love? You see, training doesn’t have to be laborious, it can be a noteworthy opportunity to act like a child.
Another fun game for practicing recall is ‘hot potato’ — grab some friends or family and stand apart holding a high-value treat, throw it between you and take turns calling the dog, he’ll love it, and it will be good practice.
If you have a puppy or have rescued a dog, you will need to train them to do their business outside and not in the house. This should be the first thing you train your dog to do.
Again, this will take effort and consistency, but it isn’t difficult. It’s important to set a schedule and take your dog outside at the same time each day.
Dogs are creatures of habit and need routine. Feed your dog at the same time every day and place him outside straight away. It’s important to keep a close eye on your dog, so you can anticipate when he may need to relieve himself.
Behaviors such as sniffing, pacing and circling are indicators so when you see it immediately place him somewhere he can go. It’s important you don’t punish a dog if he gets something wrong.
Instilling fear into him will not help him learn. Instead, focus completely on positive reinforcement.
You should also choose a word that will indicate to your dog what you want him to do such as ‘outside’ or ‘go pee’, that way if you see signs he requires you to go you can ask him, and he will respond by standing by the door etc.
Furthermore, you should take your puppy to the same area, so it recognizes the smell and gets used to doing business in the same spot.
Crate training is useful as it gives dogs a place to feel safe and can calm them down when they are excitable.
It’s not too difficult to create a train if you do it from puppyhood, and it helps you know that they will feel secure if you require leaving them in kennels when you go on holiday.
To crate train you should leave your dog in the crate for short periods of time and gradually increase it.
Dogs tend not to want to soil the area they are sleeping in, so it’s rare you will have any accidents. Keep some of his favorite toys in there to help him adjust.
Socialization is crucial to enable dogs to feel comfortable around humans and other dogs. If done correctly, it will reduce any behavioral problems they may develop due to fear.
Is it hard to do? Not really, it just requires time and can be incorporated into normal daily activities. How do you do it?
Daily walks will help dogs get used to different environments and people. Mixing it up with different routes will give your dog ultimate exposure and get them used to smells, sights, and sounds.
It’s important to start socializing early as it will be easier, but if you have a rescue dog, start immediately after adoption. If they seem fearful or apprehensive, start slowly and choose quieter areas initially. Try to remain calm at all times, so your dog doesn’t sense danger.
Be assertive when around other animals to help build confidence in him. If they start to behave aggressively or fearfully, try to distract them to redirect their attention.
If your canine has a good interaction and behaves well then be sure to give him lots of praise and stay positive, he will pick up on it making him less nervous in the future.
Another good socializing activity is to have doggy playmates.
Maybe he is better 1-1 than with a lot of dogs in the park, so invite a friend around and give them the opportunity to play and have fun, or invite a few around that you know he feels comfortable with.
Puppies and new dogs should also be socialized with as many new people as possible. If your dog isn’t aggressive, try to help them feel comfortable with people touching them and being handled.
Try to include as many people as possible, including children.
Leash training your dog is vital to make daily walks more comfortable for all. When a dog pulls on the leash, it’s easy to get frustrated and pull the leash back, and this isn’t a helpful training technique.
It can also cause back and neck problems, causing pain to you. Thankfully leash training isn’t as difficult as you may think.
Firstly, you should allow your dog to get used to the collar and lead. Make sure you choose the correct size so that your dog can wear it comfortably, it shouldn’t be too heavy or tight.
You can then start walking around the house with it. Always make sure you walk with little tension initially, so your dog doesn’t feel the need to pull, and you shouldn’t pull him either.
Try calling him to your side and each time he walks nicely without pulling, reward him with a treat. Keep doing this consistently, practicing every day, then start taking him outdoors.
So, whether you class train your dog as easy or hard depends on how quickly your pooch learns and how consistently you train him. Yes, it will take effort, but you will be rewarded with a well-behaved dog that is a joy to be around.